22 Feb 2021

Covid-19: Port workers start getting coronavirus vaccine

2:06 pm on 22 February 2021

Stevedores, marine technicians and other high-risk workers have begun getting the Covid-19 vaccine at the Ports of Auckland.

A tent set up at Ports of Auckland where workers are getting a Covid-19 vaccine.

A tent set up at Ports of Auckland where workers are getting the their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Hundreds of staff who come into contact with foreign ships were getting their injections when they turned up for work.

They are part of the government's plan to immunise border workers that is swinging into full action this week.

RNZ health reporter Rowan Quinn said most had an email and text on Friday urging them to go to the marquee set up for immunisations to get their injections.

Most spoken to at the port on Monday morning were keen to get vaccinated, saying they wanted to stay safe for their families, while a few were still thinking about whether to have the vaccine and would take some more time making a decision.

Border and managed isolation staff in Wellington will also get their turn to be vaccinated today on Monday.

Authorities expect it to take several weeks to give all 12,000 border workers around the country their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

About 70 Jet Park quarantine facility workers were on Friday the first of the border staff to be given the vaccine.

A part-time stevedore, Wiremu, was one of the first through the tents and was feeling good.

"It's just like the flu vaccine. They just stab you, and you sit for half an hour and I'm off," he said.

He wanted to protect himself and others and to keep working, he said.

Graeme Ford, who works in biosecurity, was regularly on ships with overseas crew and Covid was constantly on his mind.

He did not hesitate to get the vaccination - both for himself and everyone else, he said.

"I'd be so embarrassed if I got Covid and I hadn't had it," he said.

Stevedore Felix said the vaccinations were running a little behind but otherwise everything had gone very smoothly.

"It's worrying that we're on the front line and we could catch it so I jumped at the opportunity to get the vaccine," he said.

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